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Updated May 13, 2024, 1:26pm EDT
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Pentagon official quits over US support for Israel’s war in Gaza

Insights from Politico, The Washington Post, and Just Security

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Saleh Salem/Reuters
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The News

A United States Department of Defense official announced his resignation today, marking a rare public departure from the Pentagon over the Biden administration’s Israel policy.

Harrison Mann is an executive officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, which collects military intelligence. In his letter of resignation, Mann said the government’s “nearly unqualified support” for Israel has “enabled and empowered the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians,” and that he believed his work “unquestionably contributed to that support.” “This has caused me incredible shame and guilt,” Mann wrote in a redacted version of his resignation letter shared on LinkedIn.

Mann adds to the growing number of government officials who have publicly resigned over the Biden administration’s Israel policy, including officials from the State Department, Education Department, and USAID. Many more reportedly resigned quietly. “I have seen a clear uptick in non-public resignations in the past few weeks,” a former State Department official who resigned in November told Politico, adding that more will likely follow.

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“Reasonable” to suggest Israel used US arms to violate international law: report

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Sources:  
Just Security, Politico, The Washington Post

A report to Congress last week found it is “reasonable to assess” that Israel has used US weapons to violate international law in Gaza. Even so, the report, which the president ordered earlier this year, said it could not conclude this definitively, and America could continue providing weapons to Israel. The report garnered skepticism from critics of Biden’s Israel policy, with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) saying it was “woefully inadequate.” More than 185 lawyers — including 27 currently working in the administration — sent a letter to top US officials saying American military support for Israel likely violates the Geneva Convention, as well as the Biden administration’s own policy, which does not allow the export of weapons if they will be used in violation of international law.

Departing officials say it’s difficult to influence Gaza policy from within

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Sources:  
The Washington Post, NPR, The New York Times

Former administration officials have said there was little room for internal debate about the US’s support for Israel, and that most efforts to express dissent fell on deaf ears. One former foreign affairs officer at the State Department said that she had tried to raise concerns internally, but ultimately her concerns amounted to little “as long as the US continues to send a steady stream of weapons to Israel.” Dozens of officials have sent dissent cables, a Vietnam War-era channel designed to voice concerns over policy, and thousands have signed letters that call for the Biden administration to change its policy. In a message sent to State Department staffers, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told employees that “we’re listening.” But another State Department official who resigned last year told NPR at the time “there’s no appetite for debate.”

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